CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Manager Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches his team from the dugout during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 10, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
This one lasted until after midnight, and I finally gave up on it after the Bucs failed to score in the top of the 14th, because I have an early class to teach this morning. Of course, that's when the Reds finally scored, as Rick VandenHurk made his Pirates debut and allowed a single, a wild pitch, and finally a single to Ryan Ludwick. Even before that, though, the loss seemed inevitable, given the way the Pirates have been playing, and given that Clint Hurdle seemed to be managing the game like a contestant in a Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy sketch.
I don't have time to recap it all right now, but the trouble started when Hurdle removed Wandy Rodriguez in the seventh. Rodriguez had been fantastic, and he'd only thrown 89 pitches. He'd given up a single to Joey Votto, then gotten two ground ball outs, then given up an infield single. Hurdle put in Jared Hughes, who promptly allowed both runners to score on a double by Dioner Navarro, squandering the Pirates' 3-1 lead.
The Pirates did threaten in the 10th, or rather Aroldis Chapman threatened for them -- he didn't look like himself at all, and he walked the bases full, but Michael McKenry grounded out to end it. They also burned Garrett Jones for no particular reason, as Jones was the second batter to walk and Hurdle replaced him with Chase d'Arnaud, even though there was a runner in front of him and he didn't represent the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the inning, Hurdle let Chris Resop get into a huge jam, leaving Joel Hanrahan in the 'pen because ... well, because you have to wait for the save situation that never comes, obviously, unless the 13th or 14th inning happens to roll around, in which case you use Hanrahan for one random inning because why not. Anyway, Resop allowed an infield single, a sacrifice (why Dusty Baker kept sacrificing in this game is beyond me, since the Pirates give out stolen bases as a courtesy), and then two walks. So the bases were loaded with one out, and Hurdle just left him out there. Miraculously, he got a force out and a strikeout (of Jay Bruce, a lefty Chris Resop should never have been facing in that situation) and the Pirates got out of it. Hurdle then brought in Hanrahan in the 11th, as if finally remembering he was there.
Chris Leroux pitched well in the 12th and 13th, and Alfredo Simon came on in the 14th and allowed a leadoff double to Brock Holt. Then Eric Fryer came on to pinch-hit, simply because the Pirates didn't have anyone else (because, as some of you have pointed out, they didn't promote 40-man roster members Matt Hague and Yamaico Navarro, who are markedly better hitters), and Fryer walked (!). Then Andrew McCutchen hit an infield single. Great situation, right? But the Pirates still couldn't score, as d'Arnaud's fly ball was too shallow to bring in Holt, and Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata (who otherwise played well) grounded out. Finally, the Reds put one on the board off VandenHurk in the bottom of the inning.